Image Source: Courtesy of Heuritech
What started off as a Wuhan viral outbreak in China, has taken the world by storm. The COVID pandemic has had devastating repercussions on almost all sectors of the economy globally. However, the industries that were severely hit are the ones that are categorized as non-essential spending. Designer apparel and designer footwear definitely come in this category.
The luxury industry was hit the hardest as the world’s leading fashion center and procurement hub – Italy and China- were the first ones to have gone in complete lockdowns disrupting the entire eco-system of the Fashion Industry. Textile houses across the world have shut down either partially or completely as these luxury giants have cut their orders to them.
Asia, the biggest and main hub of production for all sorts of garments and footwear, has exhibited a kneejerk reaction over the last few months and has gone through some horrifying consequences when it comes to the apparel and design industry. Majority of the basic raw material were being sourced from China in the industry, which was badly hit by the deadly virus. Due to the supply chain disruption, the sector was in a dire situation.
Pakistan’s fashion industry also took a hit from the pandemic but more interestingly most of the designers in this sector, have, by and large weathered the storm thus far. Let us see the changes in consumer behavior COVID has brought and also how these fashion houses/ designers adapted to the worst of the situations.
If we talk about Pakistan, a lot of these brands depended on brick and mortar stores for the footfall and this walk-in clientele used to be a major contribution to the volumetric sales of these companies. A lot of brands had to shift their man-power employed at the physical stores to the teams handling e-commerce divisions.
“Within the first two weeks of the lockdown, we realized that this could be a good opportunity to expose all inventory present in the stores onto the website to maximize product offering and deepen product availability”
-CEO of Tudors Pakistan
The businesses have now started knowing the value of e-commerce. Customers who used to visit stores are welcoming this “new-normal” thing, to do online shopping at home while saving their time. We have seen buy and sell groups on Facebook and other social media platforms for peer to peer selling and they seem to be increasing on a daily basis. Limitations are still there, the COD companies have really picked up, we are still waiting for mobile money transformation, but that won’t happen until we see trust between buyers and sellers forming and a reduced dependency on cash for transactions.
The year of perpetual discounts
This year has seen more weekend sales than any other year, be it Black Friday, White Monday or Pink Thursday, you name a day and these brands would jump at the opportunity to strike you with a “SALE”.
-SINK or SURVIVE? Remember?
This is more about the “survive” strategy than an occasional sale. We all saw how these brands have had a hard time this year. A lot of brands not only here but across the globe had to shut down their stores just because their business would not make any sense in these hard times. Big losses were handed over to these companies by the Pandemic as most of the locals brands reported missing out on their first and second quarter targets by almost 70%. In an effort to maintain some income, even many high street retailers are selling anything they’re able to at significantly discounted prices throughout the year to bring the piled up inventory in motion.
-Ramps got inclined but not declined-
No arms-length guest list, Exclusive designers, Front Rows and Limited pieces in the collection – That’s what the future of fashion shows look like.
“No grandmas this year at FPW! We are not putting up a mela or a rock concert — it’s fashion and it has to be exclusive and it has to mean business” says Maheen Khan.
Yes. FPW, the pinnacle of fashion shows in the country where the biggest designers showcase their most exclusive collection, will only have front rows and limited seating. We all are familiar how designers and celebrities are at each other’s mouth for these front rows to be kept for their uncle or aunts. Hussain Rehar’s latest collection “Nawabzaadiyan” was also hosted in Lahore at a private venue with only a limited and exclusive audience.
As the world begins to re-emerge from the pandemic, we all have had to adapt and change the way we buy and sell. Apparently, this is now the “NEW NORMAL”. A temporary setback or the beginning of a change more permanent-that is the real question.